SVBONY SV165 & SV305
During the build of the astrograph, I’d decided to use an autoguider based on an ASI120-mini I’d got hanging about for a different project, but with using Astroberry which is based on Debian Linux, that started running in to the snags with the outsized packets and other funky non-standard USB2 issues.
Now if that had been the USB-C variant then the trajectory may have been different but after some sessions I’d decided I couldn’t trust the camera to do a whole session without toppling the stack.
Before I start with this write up, a note: all the equipment I write about on this site is out of my own pocket, so I’m not being biased by manufacturers or suppliers.
This is a small guidescope in the 4×30 class, there’s not really much I can say about it, aside from its solid and well put together. It’s not an ED glass scope so imaging with it would be out, but at ~120mm (my plate solver sees it as a 128mm with the sv305) on a small sensor then the moon is perhaps the only thing that will be doable with it.
Mechanically it’s solid, and the only two niggles with it could be that it only has a single tension screw on the camera retainer and the focus can slightly shift when locking it off. The first could be circumvented by using a 2″ to 1.25″ adapter or a helicoidal focuser but on a 70€ scope it’s not a massive flaw and if used with a camera like the sv305 somewhat negated with the shoulders sitting flush. It was more noticeable with the mini allowing for a touch more slop.
The second, again not a great issue, is when tensioning the red locking ring is that the focus tube could move slightly; but easily cured by holding the focus tube whilst tightening the lock.
This was put into the system for guiding duties, it’s a small colour camera based on the IMX290 bsi sensor, there are two variants of this camera; one is USB2 and the Pro version which is USB3 and has an ST4 guide port. And recently there has just been announced a mono version of the Pro. The one that I went with was the USB2, as I’m guiding over EQMod and with the sensor size and perhaps a frame a second or two, then it’s not really going to clobber the interfaces. If I was going to use it for planetary imaging or moon bashing, then the USB3 would have been a better option, but as either can be had for less than the equivalent 120, then buying one or the other is down to use preferences.
As a Mac user it might seem an odd choice of camera as it’s not Mac compatible; but my scope computer is Linux with Indi/EKOS. In this environment, the driver and library is still young and occasionally a revision may throw in a problem but the support there is solidifying and getting better with each revision; the last development update of PHD2 did break things but rolling down brought it back, but as the EKOS guider now is as good it isn’t a big deal to fall back to that.
Combined with the SV165 it’s a well balanced combo for guiding up to roughly 400mm and fits nicely on a small DSLR based imaging rig. Mine is based around a Star Adventurer and 200 – 300mm lengths, and it fits in perfectly.
And also, it’s got enough in this combination to use the drift align tools. It’s made my polar scope redundant.
The 305, I think could easily be used as a small imaging camera if the target falls within the field of view, or as a mosaic builder. When I get an adapter for the camera lenses, it’s something I want to try (my current imager is a D810 and that’s not the right tool for this rig or my focal length so I’m exploring options for a better setup without going for a bigger mount and longer OTAs). We’ll see how that goes!
Each on their own are well priced and very well balanced bits of kit, and good value. For a beginner both won’t break the bank whilst offering great performance for the price; for a seasoned imager, for using on a small grab and go or a polar alignment tool, again both would add value.
Together as a guiding combo, it is a well rounded and low fuss system, and certainly doesn’t feel budget, especially when the only bits of plastic on it are the tips of the thumb screws!
The SV305 is a different beast compared to SVBONY’s previous cameras; it’s a serious astro camera, not a video eyepiece. If they brought out another, perhaps based on the 178 or 183 sensor, that would make a hell of a combo with their 80ED scope or with an adapter for camera lenses a serious alternative to smaller DSLR or mirrorless cameras on portable astrographs.