Star Adventure mini
In this short article we will talk about the Skywatcher Mini Star adventure, a brand specialized in telescopes, equatorial mounts and astro trackers. The Star Adventure was born as a star tracker, but the mini version compared to the normal one, expands the possibilities for use in the world of time lapse thanks to specific modes that allow the control of numerous parameters. In the package we will find the Star Adventure mini, the polar scope and an accessory for the latter that allows you to illuminate the grid inside and facilitate the alignment of the polar star. You will need to purchase the appropriate cable separately to connect our SLR and the Star Adventure. The cable will vary from model to model of our DSLR, if you do not already have a compatible one, you can buy it for 10-15 euros online or in most photographic equipment stores.
Some technical details:
- Weight: 600 gr.
- Power supply: 2 AA batteries or via mini USB 5V port, autonomy of about 24h at maximum charge
- Dimensions: 105mmx 78mmx70mm
In this guide we will mainly analyze the use of the Star Adventure mini for the creation of timelapse, concluding with some basic information for use also as an astro tracker.
The Star Adventure allows you to create both horizontal and vertical panoramas, using the central tilting column if present in our stand, or a second head to be placed between the tripod and our Star Adventure mini. The maximum supported load is 3kg.
The assembly is very simple and fast, in fact thanks to the presence of a 3/8 "hole in the lower part, it is possible to fix the Star Adventure directly to the tripod, while the upper part has a 3/8" screw that allows the assembly of a head to which then attach our reflex. A reducer is also supplied to switch from the 3/8 "to the 1/4" hole. After inserting our cable, there is nothing left to do but connect our Star Adventure mini through the WiFi, to a mobile device on which we will have installed the dedicated app, downloadable for free from the Play store or the Apple store.
Let's now enter specifically on the operating modes with which we can use our Star Adventure mini for the realization of time lapse. Once we have logged into the app on our mobile device, we will be faced with several possible choices, let's analyze them individually in detail.
EXPOSURE-REGULAR TIME LAPSE
This mode is what we can call the "Standard" mode, in fact it is suitable for all those situations in which we will not have to use exposure times longer than 0.5 seconds. The shutter speed will be set directly on the SLR together with the other parameters. First we will have to decide what criteria to program our shooting session with. We can set one of these three parameters:
1. the duration of the video interval (in hours), ie the duration time of our shooting session;
2. the duration of the final video that we would like to obtain during the editing phase (in seconds). It will be necessary to specify whether we will work at 25fps (PAL) or at 30 fps (NTSC);
3. the number of shots we want to take;
Once the preferred mode has been chosen, we can set:
-the desired value for the interval between two shots (in seconds)
- the angle of movement (in degrees) or the speed of rotation (in degrees / hour)
To conclude, we will have to decide whether the rotation will take place clockwise or counterclockwise and whether to disable WiFi at power up in order to limit battery consumption. Once this last step is finished and after setting all the various settings on our reflex in manual (exposure, ISO, aperture, WB), we can start our sequence with the "Start" button that we will find in the screen at the top right.
LONG-EXPOSURE TIME LAPSE
This mode, on the other hand, will be suitable if the exposure time must be equal to or greater than one second. Let's start by setting the first parameter with the desired shutter speed (in seconds) and then adjusting the other settings (they will be the same as the previously viewed mode: Exposure - Adjust).
Once the compilation of the various fields is finished, all we have to do is launch the sequence with the "Start" button.
ASTRO TIME LAPSE
Finally, we will have the latter mode available, for which we must make some clarifications before explaining the various parameters to be set. In fact, this mode takes advantage of the original function of the Star Adventure, i.e. the ability to perform long exposures of the celestial vault, without having the celestial covers moved (however, the landscape will be blurred in the individual photos). Between one shot and the next, the star tracker will bring the machine back to the initial frame, so that in the final video the stars will still move. However, it will be necessary to make a single shot to be used as a foreground in order to eliminate the blurred background due to the chase during the shot.
It will therefore be necessary to mount the Star Adventure mini following the instructions in the manual, in order to be able to align the polar star, thanks to the use of the polar scope. To best perform this last operation, I recommend the use of the Latitude base, accessory sold separately that allows you to perform a more precise alignment.Once the alignment is finished and the shot has been adjusted for our shot, using the second head fixed on the 'astro tracker, let's go back to our app to set the various parameters of the sequence.
The first parameter to select is the exposure time (in seconds), after which we will have to decide the number of photos you want to take. The last parameter to be decided, which is of fundamental importance is the tracking speed, which will vary according to the celestial body that we want to avoid being moved during shooting. Once this last selection is over, we are ready to start the sequence.
The Star Adventure also allows you to perform single long exposures chased both for wide field photos and for Deepsky objects, for the latter case if relatively long and heavy focal lengths are used, it is necessary to determine well that the weight is within the maximum load and evaluate the purchase of the counterweight in order to have a more balanced and therefore stable configuration.
Finally, you can also use it in manual mode where, using two simple buttons, you can rotate the camera. This function is useful for shooting videos, but there is no possibility to adjust the rotation speed.