Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We talk about our equipment often, such as our mount, camera, and telescope. But we haven’t discussed the little things we bring with us that are just as important!
Besides our deep cycle battery and our 2 luggages (one for our Orion 8" Astrograph telescope and the other for our Atlas EQ-G Motorized mount), we take 2 backpacks with us when we go out to image in the desert. So we're here to ask the question, WHAT’S IN OUR BAGS?
We have a full post about our equipment HERE, but in this one, we want to discuss the things we keep in our bags during our outings for astrophotography, and give details about the backpacks we use to keep them in. The links for the each piece of equipment will be included as well.
BACKPACK I - "THE HEAVY DUTY BACKPACK"
The first bag we will talk about is a Ruggard brand Outrigger 65 model, and I, Dalia, lovingly call it the Heavy Duty backpack. I call it Heavy Duty because it’s quite hefty and thick, and secures some of our more valuable pieces of equipment. Full of compartments, 6 zipper pockets, and two hook and loop side pockets on the outside, there's a lot of space for your items.
You'll find that the compartment walls are soft like felt and have hook and loop sticky patches to secure the walls to each other, which means you can move them around! With customization like this, you can create pockets that are very snug and the walls are pretty stiff meaning your items shouldn't shift around too much. That is useful to us because again, our more valuable items are stored in this bag.
We don’t use the side pockets often with this backpack, but they’re handy and have hook and loop patches for security. We keep our iPad in one of the front zipper pouches.
The iPad's main function is to control the ASI Air, sometimes from the comfort of our car, especially when it’s too cold outside.
We are glad to have purchased the ASI Air as we now don't have to use our laptop anymore.
The iPad is also useful to us for guiding and if we need to check SkySafari for the positions of targets.
On the inside of the bag we have several compartments. One has the actual ASI Air, which has adapters that attach to the mount and it acts as the connector for our iPad and mount.
Complimentary to the ASI Air and our entire setup, is the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox which conducts energy to our electronic equipment. Also in our backpack is a lunch-bag which contains a jumper cable, and I’m not sure why we keep them in there but its most likely to avoid damage or scratching of other equipment. At the end of the jumper cable is a cigarette lighter, which of course is vital to us as it is the conductor for the power source to our mount (by the Pegasus box).
Additionally, we have a filter wheel and our ZWO ASI 1600MM-Pro CMOS camera.
The filter wheel is a ZWO brand EFW, meaning Electronic Filter Wheel.
It has 8 different filter slots we can flip through during our imaging sessions (we use 7 of them).
We then stack several sets of images taken with different filters to create incredible pictures.
We use the filter wheel together with our CMOS camera every time we image and it is our MVP, Most Valuable Piece. It takes images and cools down to below 0 temperature Celsius degrees to take clean, crisp pictures. There is also a guiding camera, the same brand as the filter wheel, a ZWO ASI290MM mini. It is much smaller than our old guiding camera (The Orion StarShoot Autoguider), which we still bring with us in our large case, in the event we may need it!
That’s about it for the Heavy Duty backpack.
Final thoughts: Even with everything in it, our items are not heavy, but I feel that this backpack protects our things quite nicely. It kind of looks like a tortoise shell, but it means that the height it has creates deep compartments and that’s what keeps things so snug. We’d recommend it for people who like to keep their equipment organized, snug, and most importantly secure.
The main compartment of our first backpack
WHAT'S IN BAG NUMBER 1?
Here is a summary of every piece of equipment we keep in our first backpack:
The Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox
The ZWO ASI 1600MM CMOS Camera
The ZWO Electronic Filter Wheel with L, R, G, B, Ha, SII and OIII filters
The ZWO ASI 290MM Mini Guiding Camera
Cables for all the above, as well as our battery cables
BACKPACK II - "THE GOODS"
The second backpack we have, is a Lowepro DSLR Camera Bag which I’ve nicknamed “The Goods”.
This bag is a tiny bit longer and looks more like a regular backpack. This bag has 5 zippers. The bag is built with a wider bottom than its top. Like the other bag, it has moveable compartments allowing us to customize the inside to our liking. Lastly, there’s a zipper pocket on the side which holds our laptop!
So what’s in our bag? The bottom zipper underneath the security latch is where we keep our screwdrivers - for tightening our telescope mirrors and general maintenance, and extra batteries.
The top front zippers holds our mount controller and cable, as well as some cables that attach to the mount and our guiding camera/telescope. The pouch zipper holds our flashlight, laser collimator - which we use every single time we set up our telescope, and other doodads like eyepieces, as well as a tiny tripod.
Note: You can check our tutorial post and video about how we use our laser collimator HERE.
In the zipper compartment area that opens wide, we have a lot of important little things.
First, we have our coma corrector, which is used for getting rid of chromatic aberration on the edges of our images. This is useful for making sure the images you take with a fast telescope, like ours at f/3.9, have well rounded stars so you don't necessarily have to crop anything out.
We also have 2 headlamps and they have several different modes, but the most important one is the red light. The red color light doesn’t mess with our night vision as much as a white light, so if you’re out there and need a light, invest in a red color headlamp. They are super cheap anyway!
Not really related to Astrophotography but this is also where we place the microphone for recording our videos, because that's important and never overlooked!
Weirdly, we also have handwarmers, we bring those with us for the Winter months but often forget about it and they end up staying in our bag all year long.
Lastly, we have an intervalometer and extra batteries for it.
The intervalometer is useful to us when we want to take long exposures shots using our DSLR camera. This device attaches to our Canon 7D Mark II, and we control how long it takes exposures which can last from seconds to minutes and we also control how many times or "intervals" it takes.
This is good for time-lapses so if you’re interested in those, an intervalometer is useful.
The final zipper pocket is for a laptop. We don’t have to use our laptop much these days now that we’ve upgraded our equipment, and the iPad has seemingly replaced the laptop as a control and guide-view. We still bring it for fun though, mostly to watch a movie or play some games when we get bored.
One of the two main compartments of our second backpack
WHAT'S IN BAG NUMBER 2?
Here is a summary of every piece of equipment we keep in our second backpack:
Our Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector
Adapters for both the DSLR and the CMOS camera
An Intervalometer for our Canon 7D Mk II
Hand Warmers for Winter months
Headlamps with a red light feature
Extra batteries for our DSLR Camera and our intervalometer
Mic / lenses when needing to film a video
A powerful torchlight for when it is time to pack
Our Orion Laser Collimator
Screwdrivers for collimating the mirrors and general maintenance on the field
A few eyepieces and a barlow
A tiny travel tripod, just in case
Our laptop, although we do not need to use it anymore thanks to the ASI Air
OPENING OUR BAGS ON VIDEO
We, well, Dalia, made a full video where she opens up both bags and show you all the items in there one by one. She also talks about how me make everything fit in two bags and how we don't need any extra one. Do not hesitate to leave us a comment if you have any questions, or would just like to join the discussion!
[COMING August 13th]
That is it with What's in our bags!
We hope this post may have provided some clarity for ways to fit all your equipment in bags instead of cases or if there are some accessories we use that you'd like to add to your growing equipment setup. Please be sure to let us know any questions you may have about our important little things and what you guys have that’s the most handy dandy for your outings.
Before we end this post, you will find below the few remaining pieces of equipment that we take with us that can NOT fit in our bags.
1) A battery, it is the only cable connecting to it
We use a deep cycle battery purchased from Amazon. It is very heavy and, truthfully, annoying to carry around. However, it lasts much longer than our previous power source (a basic jump starter, purchased from Walmart).
We are very happy with our puchase so far, as it never ran out of juice on us in many hours spent under the stars, and we are confident that it will not fail us!
2) The Orion Atlas EQ-G motorized mount
The Atlas EQ-G is the mount we have been using since we bought our first telescope and is our only one to date!
It has helped us track the sky for hundreds of nights, and is very sturdy!
You can see us briefly talk about this mount in our full review blog post and video for our $479 telescope.
We enjoy it, but it is also unfair to compare it to other mounts as we haven't had the chance to try any other one yet.
Don't forget to also bring the weights for counter balancing. We need two to balance our Orion 8" Astrograph, one to balance the Meade 70mm APO (which we only had time to use twice) and none to balance just our Canon 7D Mark II DSLR camera!
3) The Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9
This is our main telescope, which we use to capture all our images on this website, besides a few exceptions like Barnard's Loop (taken with just our DSLR camera) or the large nebula NGC 7000 (taken with a much smaller, wider telescope).
We are extremely happy with this scope and are planning to keep it for year and years, probably until the day we accidentally drop it. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
Read and watch our full review of the Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9 telescope HERE.
Until next time,
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