Solar Eclipse Usage: I had a question about using the Hinode and how it performed during the 2017 eclipse. I can say it worked great! Once you learn how to use the guider then you understand how to make the most of its features and when properly set up and calibrated with your ST4 compatible mount, even with passing clouds you can always recover by using your hand controller to re-align the telescope then engage the guider. The better your mount is aligned the less drift you have during heavy cloud cover. I have actually been under 30 minutes of clouds and still was satisfied with the performance, This Solar Guider is the best solar guider on the market.
Last year I purchased a solar telescope and was very excited to begin using it for day-long long viewing I quickly tired of making tracking adjustments on my mount, granted if I had better alignment this would be less of an issue. Most of us solar observers know that aligning during the day is problematic as most mounts are used for night viewing with star alignment possible, In the daytime you simply have no stars to align visually. No worries!! You now have the Hutech Hinode Solar Guider to make all that pain go away.
At nearly $600.00 it is not exactly the cheapest Solar Only accessory, but in my opinion is well worth it, especially for imaging - read on.
In the Box: This Hinode Solar Guider is well packed into a small plastic carry case with almost everything you need to begin right out of the box. The solar guider can be ordered specifically for mounting to your solar telescope, Lunt, Coronado, or a generic Guider can be acquired as well. For me, this device replaced my default "solar finder". You get the Beautiful White Guider, USB Cable for power, Guide Port Cable, and a rugged hand controller.
Installation: Simple and straightforward. If you bought one specific to your scope it will be a direct bolt-on. Otherwise, you simply need to mount the guider like any other guider, in-line with the optics.
The Hand controller allows you to calibrate the guiding specific to your mount - it learns your mounts specifics and takes about two minutes before being ready for guide mode. No need for a computer to operate this unit. Once your scope is set up and approximately aligned, you slew the scope to the sun, then use the hand controller to position the solar disk into the Guider's recital until you hear an audible tone, once you are happy with the position of the sun in your eyepiece, you tell the Hinode Solar Guider to "learn" and for the next couple minutes the Guider adapts to the mounts specifics and alignment. Once the Solar Guider knows how to make the necessary adjustments to maintain the solar disk perfectly centered - it sends a tone with a light on the controller's LED to indicate it is time to set to GUIDE, and the rest, as they say, is history. This thing works!
Hutech Solar Guider Hand Controller
Hand Controller for the Hutech, makes setup and tweaking the tracking very easy
As it guides on the sun, an audible tone lets you know when it loses sight of the sun (clouds) with a tone, and also when it returns to tracking mode when the clouds pass, and it makes a correction to re-center the sun just where it left off. I had a session with passing clouds and the guider handled it with no issues. The sound volume is adjustable using the hand controller if you have neighbors or dogs.
This device works wonderfully on my Losmandy Gemini 1 system, or Gemini II and I suspect just as good on other mounts that have an ST4 guider port. Keeps the sun-centered for several hours, allowing me to process a few shots while the scope keeps on tracking. In the event you bump your telescope and move the alignment, You can set the guider to the finder and use your telescope hand controller to move the sun back into position, the press GUIDE on the guider and it takes over the task once again without the need to re-learn.
Basic Guiding Steps I Used:
1. I do a rough polar alignment of the mount. I have markers in my yard to tell me where to place my mount legs to position the mount in its celestial north position. if you have no markers you can use a compass - easy or even your smartphone.
2. Power up the mount, enter your coordinates, date, and time as necessary, I use GPS, my mount needs to be in photo mode for the guiding port to activate - easy. This is only necessary if you want your mount to slew to the sun and get you in the ballpark without the need to manually slew.
3. Make all necessary connections to the Hutech Hinode Solar Guider. Power comes from a mini USB cable. So you need a USB power source. I use an all-in-one 12vdc system with USB ports; keep the solar guider in finder mode for now.
4. Using your telescope hand controller, instruct your mount to go to the sun (after you have the proper safe solar filters in place). It should slew to the sun and be roughly on target unless you are really off - but don't worry about it, this is exactly why you bought this guider. Using the telescope hand controller makes small adjustments until the sun is centered. You can use the visual guider port on the Hutech like on your old solar guider as necessary if you need to. In finder mode, an audible sound is heard and will increase in pitch as you get closer to the center of the sun.
5. Ensure your Solar Filter is in place then, Look through your eyepiece the sun should be centered and viewable in your eyepiece, if not make any fine adjustments using the mount's hand controller.
6. Ensure the Hutech is plugged into your Mounts Guider Port and using the Hutech Hinode Solar Guider's hand controller, push calibrate - this will take about 2 minutes. I call this the learn mode.
7. When calibration finishes, if necessary use the mount's hand controller to make any fine adjustments, now press - the guide on the Hutech Hinode Guider hand controller - you are done, go enjoy.
Note: If the sun is not perfectly centered or you forgot to center it perfectly, just use your Telescope's hand controller to adjust, Place the guider in finder mode, make the adjustment then press guide and it will continue guiding.
Using the Hutech Solar Guider I was able to keep the sun-centered during 1000's exposures and was able to make these images on a bad day using 300+ stacked images.
The Hutech Hinode Solar Guider along with a guide mount makes it much easier to view and image the sun, I wished everything was as easy to set up and use.
The Solar Guide can be used as a basic visual solar guider using the visual port - just like the old days.
Also, can be used in finder mode which sounds audible tones during cloud passing or if the sun drifts out of view.
Easy on and off using two-finger thumb screws at either end for transportation or moving to another telescope - you just need a second mount plate if you have more than one telescope.
This is one great system and I highly recommend it to anyone who does imaging on a regular basis, does outreach programs, or is for those who are tired of manually adjusting!
Shown with my Lunt 80mm with DSII and BF3400 setup, Notice the extra extension to allow prime focus using the Celestron 274m imaging camera, I later upgraded to a ZWO ASi 174MM camera better suited for the solar task.
Lunt 80 Solar Telescope with BF3400
To keep the system powered I use a solar charger power bank that has a 2300mah capacity with DC out and a USB port to keep my mount and Finder tablet running for the session. I also keep a second small portable DC power supply handy if additional power is needed for my laptop.
Overall The Hutech Solar Guider is a big step up and worth the price for the Solar Enthusiast.