A few nights ago saw 2nd light using the EQ6. For some reason , I couldn't get a 3-star alignment. The mount is permanently set up in the observatory and polar aligned, so a bad equipment set up isn't the problem.
I sufficed with a 2-star alignment. But this time I attached the Canon 350D dSLR directly to the Vixen VC200L (f/8 scope, 1800mm focal length). With the increased magnification, stars became wandering trails rather than pinpoints. Since the 350D doesn't have Live View, focusing stars using the standard focusing screen is a bit hit-and-miss, so the stars in the photos below are a bit out of focus.
The best solution for me is to get an LVI Smartguider. I looked around for a suitable autoguider and this one seemed to fit the bill. It's a stand-alone unit, meaning it doesn't need a laptop or PC to control it, so no messing with drivers. It also make it much more useful for field trips as the autoguider and SLR are the only extra bits of equipment that would need to ferried to a dark sky site.
The LVI Smartguider is an expensive bit of kit, costing GBP£480 plus shipping. All the online shops in the UK that stock it (SCS Astro, Green Witch, Widescreen Centre) sell it at the same price (is there a cartel there, I wonder?)
At the current Pound/Euro exchange rate (0.82), that equates to about €585. Good thing then that I found the Smartguider for sale at a German shop for €359. Yes, you read that correctly. The shop is selling the autoguider at a 19% discount (it normally sells for €458). So buying it from Germany, I saved a whopping €226!
We all know that UK shops swap out the $ sign for a Â£ sign when setting their prices. They're apparently doing the same for the Euro now, and adding about 25% margin on top of that!
If you're in the market for the LVI autoguider, buy it from Germany instead.
The LVI was actually developed in Italy. In the US, Orion have rebadged the unit as the Orion StarShoot Solitaire AutoGuider [no longer available]. Don't confuse it with the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider which requires a PC to control it.
I should receive my autoguider in the next few days. In the meantime, here are sections of the images I took a few days ago showing the badly trailed stars. All going well, the LVI will make that a thing of the past.