MSM Star Tracker – Finally Working in Singapore

Date: May 25, 2020

I finally got my MSM (Move Shoot Move) Star Tracker working!

For more info about Move Shoot Move Star Tracker, go here.

This is a Star Tracker. It is a cheap version carried under Garuda branding. I believe it is a China made. Who say China made gadget cannot be use? It is one of the most portable Star Tracker available in the world. Not only it is cheap, but it is portable. Very small.

I am trying to shoot the stars or may be Milky Way (if we could even see one in Singapore) in Singapore. As you know the earth rotates. So, when it rotates, if you point your camera to the sky for a long time, your star picture will have a star trail which is not desired.

In order to take the star picture for a long time, you must mount your camera on the Star Tracker which rotate along the Earth north south axis at the same speed, like that you won’t get a Star Trail on your Star picture.

It is magical.

Wait, how you know your Star Tracker is rotating about the North South Earth Axis? Well you will need to align your Star Tracker perpendicularly to the Polaris star. Polaris star is always appear at the North. So, point your Star Tracker to the North will make your Star Tracker approximately rotates along the North South Axis.

We will talk about how to align it later.

See, who say singapore could not get a Milky Way. I managed to get one this morning. We just need to have luck, to have a clear sky like this morning 5:30am.

Here is another photo.

OK, usually, if you use a cropped camera like mine, Fujifilm X-T2. You have to multiply the lens focal to 1.5 in order to get an equalvalant full frame focal length. So, I have my Fujifilm at 16mm, it is equal to 24mm on a full frame sensor.

And we use the 500 rule to determine how long exactly I can expose my sensor to the sky before it start to have star trail. So, 500/24, I have about 20 seconds. So, if I shoot anything longer than 20 seconds, I will see a “trail” on my star pictures.

So, by putting onto a Star Tracker, since my camera is rotating the Earth axis at the similar speed, I will always see that star at the same position. There will be no star trail. So, I can shoot 1min, 2min or 1hour on the photo as long as I need to.

That is the basics of the Astrophotography which I am trying to learn and get at in near future.

Another pone which I believe is about 40sec.

My portable MSM Star Tracker.

Basically, when you mount the camera, you can rotate the camera anyway you want. But the MSM Star Tracker needs to always point to the NORTH!

And that is where the problem comes. I am in singapore, and the Polaris is always pointing at NORTH, yes, pointing NORTH, but its position is almost around 1.2 degree above Horizons. Hmm…

Usually, people in North America will use the green laser or see thru the scope to find Polaris which is about 30 degree above the horizon, which is easy to spot. In singapore, not easy. So, we have to rely on… Compass.

So, when we start to do so, using the compass, I drew a line on my MSM Star Tracker.

And I got myself a transparent compass. I also draw a yellow line on it.

And if you align the compass on the Star Tracker, you will know which way you are point too. Align the tripod and rotate the MSM Star Tracker it will bring you to the desired north position.

So, even if we cannot see, we know where is the North pointing too.

So, got one night, we try to do so. But strangely, we could get a nice picture. All my picture has Star Trails.

I checked and rechecked everything. My MSM is pointing at the North direction. Why my pictures have Star Trails? And earth is so big, by right the margin of error should be big too.

So, I started to email MSM people seek for help.

They are very helpful and fast. They responded, “May be try not to leave the compass onto the Star Tracker as the Star Tracker might distort the magnetic field.”

Oh, I see.

This is just like using the iPhone compass. If you put your iPhone compass on the floor or any other surface, depending on the magnetic field of the material or the power cables or any other factors, you almost cannot get a very accurate readings.

So, when I placed the compass on top of the MSM Star Tracker, the MSM actually generate some magnetic field of its own. That is why Jay keep complaining that the North keep changing. Hahaha

These are the photos taken on that day. It is the only 2 out of may be 100 pictures that is without a star trail. We were puzzled what happened.

So, after the MSM people explained to me not to put on top of the MSM. I decided to try it.

As you can see. If I placed it on top it points like this.

When I lifted it by few cm, wow, the direction of the pointer changed.

So, I told Jay my problem, and he decided to design a holder for me. A suspended holder which is 3-5cm above the Star Tracker and hold my compass.

He loves to accept challenges.

So, in no time, he decided the holder, so, I need to clip this holder above my MSM Star Tracker.

like this. 3-5 cm above it and it should give me a magnetic clearance air gap. So that my compass will give me a good reliable reading.

It is fun working with my technician at home. Hahahah

But later, this morning, I found out that I can just launched the PhotoPills App to do this. I can launched the Night AR within the photoPills App and place this on top of the MSM and this will give me approximate North.

This is the sample of how to do it.

It is under the PhotoPills app Night AR tools.

So, once I got this out of the way, I now have a working MSM Star Tracker to put my camera on to shoot better Astro-Photography pictures.

I make notes, ok.

So that all my test shots will teach me what is the correct settings I should place.

Don’t play play, I am very serious when I am learning. Hahahaha

Once I have “master” this, I will move on getting a bigger telescope. Hahaha

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