I use a variety of hardware and software to make this fun, educational, and convenient. The hardware consists of an IBM NetVista 2.4 Ghz PC, which is the observatory computer. This is connected back to the main house by a 100 mb ethernet link. I run MaxIm DL/CCD Ver 4.11, CCDSoft Ver 5.00.186, and TheSky Ver 126.96.36.199 for scope and camera control. CCDAutoPilot3, FocusMax, and Tpoint completes the package and improves the pointing when working from the inside. I use UltraVNC for remote access. The main computer in the house can control the observatory computer with very good response times. I use a variety of CCD cameras, and depending on the object(s) I am imaging, a certain camera works best for the scope focal length, the object size, and the arcsec/pixel I need. I use SBIG (Santa Barbara Instrument Group) cameras and have a ST-8XE, ST-9E, and ST-10XME, a STL-6303, and 2-STL-11Ks. For taking the color images, I use a SBIG CFW-8A, CFW-10 and FW-8s for all the STL series cameras, and all use Astrodon filters. I use a SBIG AO-7 when I run my C14. This really helps tame the dancing stars we have in SC for the majority of the year. For image processing, I use MaxIm Ver 4.11, AIP4WIN Ver 1.4.25, CCDStack Ver 1.3.2 and Photoshop CS2. After a nights worth of imaging, I save all the originals on my backup system which is a 1-terabyte Buffalo Network Storage server.
I have added and updated my equipment over the few short years I have been enjoying this hobby. My different setups can be see here:
|1. March 2000 : First mount and scope - CI700 and C14 ............|
|2. January 2001 : CR-150 and Vixen 102mm Flourite ............|
|3. May 2002 : AP1200GTO and AP 127 f/8 StarFire ............|
|4. July 2002 : Software Bisque® Paramount® GT-1100ME ............|
|5. June 2003 : Astro Physics® AP 155 EDF F/7 ............|
|6. July 2003 : Astro Physics® AP 180 EDT F/9 ............|
|7. May 2005 : RCOS® 16" Truss F/8.4 ............|
Keeping your equipment clean helps minimize downtime and lost imaging opportunities. I cleaned my camera and filter wheel, and the results were quite amazing.
You can see the comparisons here : Flat Comparison