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STL Camera – New Tricks

What is the top issue SBIG STL owners have? As you know, it is guiding behind the filters. Would you be surprised to learn there is now a cure? 

Back in 2005, when skies were less light polluted and narrowband imaging was not as prevalent, the STL Research Grade cameras were renowned for versatility, reliability, and their unique strengths like big sensors, self-guiding capabilities, and the internal 5-position filter wheel. Wideband filters for red-green-blue tricolour imaging were quite prevalent, and they allowed plenty of light to make it to the tiny internal guide CCD in the STL camera.

The Internal Guiding Problem

With the shift to narrowband imaging, and the difficulty finding bright stars, customers expressed frustration with getting a bright guide star onto the tiny guide CCD sensor. A few customers started using off-axis devices (like the AstroDON MOAG) with an SBIG RGH-1 remote guide head. Since many people still rely on our workhorse STL Research Grade Cameras today, we developed a better solution.

The SBIG StarChaser Solution

Instead of struggling with the internal guide sensor or losing backfocus to external pickoff hardware, simply order the matching SBIG StarChaser off-axis guiding camera and a StarChaser-to-STL adapter plate to fit your camera. The chart below explains the details.

You probably already know the StarChaser SC-2 and SC-3 are slim autoguiders with a pick-off mirror, a 1280×1024 CMOS guide camera, and are fully independent with their own USB interface and power input. As a bonus, they can control an Adaptive Optics unit if you wish to add that on. ASCOM and DL Imaging drivers are included, so it will work with most software and won’t impact the STL camera downloads with the older SBIG drivers.

The SC-2 is designed for 2-inch light paths and can control an optional AO-8 tip-tilt adaptive optics unit. The SC-3 is designed for bigger sensors with a 3-inch light path and can control an optional AO-X adaptive optics unit.

Matching your Camera

The SC-2 option works for most cameras for guiding improvements and the optional adaptive optics. An STL-1001E likely will be fine, as the telescope is probably relatively slow for its big pixel size, but our estimate is if faster than f/6.3 ist may be necessary to move up to the SC-3 + AO-X as well. The large size of the STL-11000M may be vignetted with the AO-8A, so an SC-3 with AO-X is best. 

Camera Required You may Need
Guiding improvement only

STL-1301E, STL-4020, STL-6303E

STL-1001E, STL-11000M

STL to StarChaser SC-2 adapter #ACC08

StarChaser SC-2

2.156 x 24 plate

the 40-12121-00 nosepiece for 2-inch focusers

Guiding & AO-8A Adaptive Optics

STL-1301E, STL-4020, STL-6303E

STL to StarChaser SC-2 adapter #ACC08

StarChaser SC-2

AO-8A

2” to T-Thread nosepiece #50146
Guiding & AO-8A Adaptive Optics

STL-1001E on >f/6.3 scope

Some risk of vignetting

STL to StarChaser SC-2 adapter #ACC08

StarChaser SC-2

AO-8A

2” to T-Thread nosepiece #50146
Guiding & AO-X Adaptive Optics

STL-1001E on < f/6.3

STL-11000M

STL to StarChaser SC-3 adapter #ACC10

StarChaser SC-3-SHORT

AO-X

STX/STXL Mounting Plate #10018

You might need an adapter change on the telescope side of the improved instrument package.

Stellar Results

What are the results of this upgrade?

  • Less backfocus than other options
  • Dimmer guide stars work – Because they are not blocked by the filters
  • Bigger guide sensor – More pixels, modern sensor
  • Stay on target – Alignment and mechanical errors are virtually eliminated
  • Pinpoint stars – With the AO-X or AO-8A your mount issues and slow seeing disappear
  • The AO-X is a lot slimmer, faster, and more efficient than the AO-L

Give your old reliable an upgrade: