The LVI SmartGuider is an innovative, stand-alone autoguiding camera whose advanced built-in logic allows correction for all tracking errors of any equatorial mount equipped with a standard ST4 autoguider port. Unlike other guiders on the market, the LVI SmartGuider is a stand-alone unit that interfaces directly with your guidescope and mount, no PC required. The Control Paddle features a wide graphical display, which enables the user to constantly monitor the tracking performance and fine-tune all of the guiding corrections sent to the mount. It also has a set of easy to navigate menus for fine tuning all the camera parameters (both standard and advanced), which make the LVI SmartGuider suitable for all applications, even the most demanding.
Unlike all other autoguiding cameras currently available on the market, the LVI SmartGuider can effectively guide out all tracking errors without using a laptop. By leveraging the latest advances in electronics and imaging, it allows the astrophotographer to cut down on the complexity of the setup phase. Operations such as correct exposure selection, guide star framing, focusing and axis calibration, which are the key to a successful imaging session, are very time-consuming and normally require the use of a computer display. With the LVI SmartGuider, these operations can be performed very quickly and intuitively, thanks to the ease of use and the accessibility of all functions.
If the LVI SmartGuider is to be used on a fixed or semi-permanent imaging platform, you can leave it attached to the guide scope: certain operations such as focusing and axis calibration can thus be done once, saving the parameters into the camera’s flash memory for later use. This way, all you have to do is find a guide star and you’re up and running in the blink of an eye.
Moreover, a special eyepiece (called "SmartEye") is available which is parafocal with the camera and shares the very same field of view: this makes it possible to locate a guide star, frame and focus in seconds!
Not having to use a laptop for autoguiding carries a number of advantages:
- For all those who don’t really need a PC (e.g. as is the case with traditional film or DSLR imaging), the benefit is twofold: you save on PC hardware cost and on the energy needed to power it.
- CCD users can benefit as well, as the use of the stand-alone LVI SmartGuider greatly reduces the performance overhead on the PC. This is very convenient especially with resource-hungry setups where the PC is already under heavy load (e.g. with big multiple-megapixel CCDs, electrical focusers, motorized filter wheels, etc.). This also significantly lowers the chance of dangerous operating systems crashes.
- As the LVI SmartGuider is sensitive enough to find a suitable guide star anywhere in the whole sky with exposure times of around 1 second, you can also save on the cost of a micrometric guidescope support, needed to scan the “celestial neighborhood” in case a sufficiently bright star cannot be found in the field of view.
The LVI SmartGuider camera is a dedicated solution for those who enjoy deep-sky imaging with traditional film or DSLR cameras and want to reduce time-consuming set-up times and/or the need for a laptop. Normally the clearest and darkest skies can only be found in remote places where such a simple facility as a household AC outlet is a real luxury. In this context, long exposure times that can only be exploited under pitch-dark skies absolutely call for both the most precise and reliable autoguiding performance, and simple, no-frills, low power consuption equipment.
The jaw-dropping skies that can be admired only at remote locations (like high peaks, tropical islands lying in the middle of the ocean thousands of kilometers away, and as such reachable only by plane) can really be taken advantage of only with the simplest setup, i.e. a small battery-powered equatorial mount carrying a telephoto lens or a small telescope.
Those using a CCD cameras not fitted with a dual autoguiding sensors (i.e. all but the models from SBIG) also need a guide scope mounted in parallel with the main OTA or an off-axis guiding attachment. This applies in special cases to dual-CCD cameras as well, e.g. when imaging asteroids, comets or using narrow-band filters (Ha, SII, OIII) which dim the stars in the field of view so much as to make it extremely difficult to find a suitable candidate.
And, of course, the more hardware (e.g. main CCD camera, autoguiding camera, filter wheel, electrical focuser, and so on) that’s attached to the laptop, the stronger the workload, and consequently, the higher the chance of dangerous crashes.
Using the LVI SmartGuider basically spares you the need (and the hassle) of burdening the laptop with yet another peripheral (or even the need for more powerful hardware), thereby significantly lowering the odds for a system lockup…
The LVI SmartGuider is equipped with a state-of-the-art detector, whose high sensitivity often eliminates the need for a micrometric guide scope support. In many cases, these (often low-quality) supports are the source of differential flexure which inevitably results in star trailed pictures. When both optics are attached to the mount via fixed supports, the risk of flexures becomes negligible.
And what’s even more amazing, is that just an 80-mm telescope is more than enough to detect stars as dim as 8th magnitude with just one-second exposure time!
Using the LVI SmartGuider ensures that you will never have to wrestle with device drivers under Windows, and that it will never fail you, even with setups you have never used before.
All cameras that need to be hooked up to a PC via a USB port or a frame grabber are still a valid option for autoguiding.
Of course, the above holds true only if everything works smoothly. This is not always the case.
Fortunately, problems such as incorrect detection of the camera, operating system crashes, hardware conflicts, problems with device drivers (whose installation CD you will of course have left home, after driving a long distance to reach a clear and dark location) are not so common, but they normally take place when you least expect it or just when you’re not prepared to fix them.
Mr. Murphy always knows when the best time has come to spoil your imaging sessions. When you’re finally ready under a magnificent sky and eager to start shooting (as you probably won’t even bother leaving driving a long way or setting your rig up unless everything looks more than promising), that’s when problems usually show up.
Not only does the LVI SmartGuider help keep all these bugaboos at bay. It can also work flawlessly with rigs it has never seen before, without the need to reconfigure or to calculate any new parameter. Thanks to its advanced built-in logic, it can automatically adjust itself to any new equipment combination in order to maximize its autoguiding performance. All you have to do is just to hook it up and enjoy imaging your favorite deep-sky targets!
The LVI SmartGuider camera is very easy and fun to use!
Now anyone can start his fascinating journey into the realm of astronomical photography, without having to buy overly complicated autoguiding cameras, or to look through hundreds of boring manual pages to learn how to tweak every single parameter. LVI has made the astrophotographer’s life so much easier, everything is just a click of a button away!
The LVI SmartGuider’s built-in firmware has undergone a very long testing phase by a group of very knowledgeable astrophotographers with different combinations of optics, mount and drive in order to optimize its performance and its ease of use for everybody. Not even the slightest detail has been left out, so that really everybody can successfully make use of the LVI SmartGuider straight out of the box. A special eyepiece, named the SmartEye and available as an add-on, is parfocal with the camera and has the same field of view. This further speeds up the setup phase, since it makes it way easier to find a suitable guidestar and to achieve precise focus, which is mandatory for the camera work at its best.
LVI Smartguider stand alone autoguider camera:
- Camera head;
- Control handpaddle;
- Hard case with shaped foam inside;
- Parfocal SmartEye 1.25" eyepiece;
- Camera-to-Handpaddle-to-ST4 port cables;
- DC power cable.
- Sensor: Mono 1/3" Aptina MT9V032;
- Sensor formaat: 752x480 pixels, 6 micron;
- Exposure: Auto, 0.001 - 2 secs.
- Automatic star search function;
- Real time star focus status & position displayed on the 2.5" wide screen;
- Automatic axes calibration with permanent saving;
- Screen backlight and beep sound adjustment;
- Star trailing treshold, indipendent on each axis (agressiveness);
- Sub-pixel 2x autoguiding (for usage of short guidescopes).
Star limiting magnitudes:
- D=60mm (2.3") aperture, 2 secs exposure: mag 7.5 or more;
- D=80mm (3.2") aperture, 2 secs exposure: mag 8.0 or more;
- D=100mm (4.0") aperture, 2 secs exposure: mag 8.5 or more.
Weight and diminsions:
- Control paddle LxHxW: 55x96x28mm;
- Control paddle weight: 220 grams;
- Guiding camera DxH: 65x50mm;
- Guiding camera weight: 110 grams.