View Full Version here: : AZ EQ6 misbehaves...

25-09-2017, 09:50 PM
Just had first night out with a friend and a new AZ-EQ6 and found setting it up totally bizarre. Friend has had an EQ6 for years and I've used other Synscan mounts before for several years - which was what persuaded me to buy the AZEQ6.

Went through the motions of setting up and aligning to the SCP using a compass to set the azimuth and a clinometer to set the altitude, estimate is within a degree both ways.

Powered up, set EQ mode, date, time, long and lat as per usual.

Tried a 1 star alignment using Kaus Australis. OK... then a GOTO to Moon. Mount slewed below horizon, approx 60 degrees off. Hopelessly wrong.

Tried 2-star alignments. Aside from offering a bizarrely VERY limited selection of just 3 stars to choose from each time, it went through this as usual.

Then tried a GOTO to Saturn. The handset insisted on showing the altaz position of Saturn (I expected it would show RA & Dec) then attempted to slew BELOW the horizon at which point I stopped it.

In total disbelief we spent a couple of hours parking the scope, powering off, powering on and repeating only to have it do similar each time.

Tried a 3-star alignment. After aligning on two stars it then picked Fomalhaut but slewed way off in the wrong direction - at least 90 degrees in both axes.

Any ideas ? I'm quite literally on the brink of sending it back to Bintel as defective.

It's so screwy that in some ways its as if (a) it behaves as if its in the northern hemisphere, or (b) one of the encoders isn't functioning correctly, (b) it persists in thinking its in altaz mode when it is set up as equatorial. Admittedly I haven't set up in AZ mode, might try that later in the week.

25-09-2017, 10:42 PM
Is there a hemisphere setting in the hand contrpller menu system? It certainly sounds like it thinks it is on the northern hemisphere if its chasing stars below the horizon. My CGX certainly has a hemisphere setting. When you put in the gps location are you using negative for latitude or S, or does it have gps built in?

25-09-2017, 10:47 PM
Glen it is set to E 151d 10' and S 33d 46' elevation 100m and time zone GMT+10h.
We both have used Synscans many time before and checked this several times tonight, which is why both of use were frankly shocked.

Something else I am puzzled by is that it only offers just 3 stars at each point in the alignment sequence, mostly hopelessly low elevation. We were lucky to be at a site with pretty good horizons otherwise it would simply have been a no-go, period.

Previous experience with Synscan handsets is that you get a fair selection of bright stars to choose from.

I'm also wondering if I can get SkySafari to communicate with the mount directly and ditch the Synscan handset.

25-09-2017, 10:50 PM
The obvious thing to check would be see if a different handset works with it if you can access one. Will isolate the issue methinks. I have the Orion version of the same mount and found it to be very good, never had any issues with it.


25-09-2017, 10:54 PM
Good point I'll try Alex's handset on the weekend.

25-09-2017, 10:56 PM
I have gone through my old NEQ6 manual and other than the co-ordinate S designator i can't see what else you need to do. Is this a brand new, never used before mount?
I agree that trying another hand controller is a good idea, or you could use Sky Safari as it has avprofile for that mount, but you would need a wifi box like a Nexus to connect to the bottom of the controller.
Sounds like a call to Bintel might be in order.

25-09-2017, 11:03 PM
The 3 stars thing sounds very wrong. I usually get a long list of stars. That fact alone tells me there is something not right with the handset. When you think about it, the handset is doing all the computational stuff, so is first place to look.

25-09-2017, 11:03 PM
Yup brand new. I have a SkyFi adapter but have yet to get that to work - it came with no instructions either.

Figured get the hardware set up and the SynScan working first.

About all that does work at the moment is slewing.

25-09-2017, 11:07 PM
Do you run EQMOD at all? If not I can lend you a Cable that I have spare to see if you can run it with that. Will need a laptop off course.

26-09-2017, 06:09 AM
I'm probably mentioning something you already know but the Advanced Filter default is ON in the SETUP options for Alignment Stars. This from an expert (not) who has just used Synscan again for the first time in 5 years.

26-09-2017, 06:49 AM
Have you tried with the encoders OFF???
If there is an error in the encoder, it can badly affect the pointing as it constantly overwrites where it thinks it is pointing.


26-09-2017, 11:54 AM
Russell, Andrew - thanks will try again tomorrow... other commitments tonight...

I’ve no idea what the default encoder settings are out-of-the-box, didn’t look. Also a couple of times we did try a “factory reset” as a last resort, but that didn’t affect the way it misbehaved.

26-09-2017, 12:12 PM
I should have clarified my comment above. Turning off the advanced filter means that all the alignment stars are displayed during alignment and not just the ones that the system thinks will give a good alignment, but which are often inconveniently placed. The list can also be sorted by magnitude or proper name.

26-09-2017, 12:50 PM
Will be interesting to try. It repeatedly on gave only 3 alternative stars of which 2 were usually hopelessly low on the horizon. What has me scratching my head is that it ignored Antares and wants Kaus Australis instead. Similarly it ignored Achernar and Fomalhaut.

SynScans I’ve used out of the box before didn’t do that and offer typically a dozen stars - or the naked eye planets.

26-09-2017, 03:32 PM
They were normally ON, and if the encoder is damaged/misbehaving, then you will have problems.

I have a small app that allows you to test out the encoders etc
but it runs best in EQDirect mode

26-09-2017, 04:31 PM
You should be able to test it inside, just do a random 1 star alignment, push okay and tell it to skew to Jupiter or Saturn. You’ll know quickly whether it’s working or not. Just allows you to test things inside when it’s clofuy.

26-09-2017, 04:43 PM
Just tried that - repeated what I did last night. 2 star alignment, select alpha Centauri and Kaus Australis, then a GOTO to Saturn. It flipped the polar axis to the east and slewed to some random direction east below horizon.

I’ll try again tomorrow but looks like I’m taking it back to Bintel on Saturday to show them.

Off to a meeting for the evening.

26-09-2017, 05:29 PM
The handbox has a menu that allows you to see where "it thinks" it is pointing. Have you tried using that along the way to see what it says???
IIRC there are also serial commands you can use to do this.


26-09-2017, 07:39 PM
Hi Andrew, yes.

When trying the GOTO to saturn the handset displays the azimuth and altitude of saturn before passing ENTER to make it slew to that position.

A couple of times I checked that with Sky Safari and the position it gave was correct, yet it slews way off to some other place below the horizon. Each time I had to stop the slew before it crashed the scope OTA into the mount.

This is making me think the encoder system is totally borked.

26-09-2017, 08:03 PM
So try with encoders OFF
The encoders are rather insidious in that they tweak the "reported" position on misreads, even if you havent released the clutches.
Again this can be easily tested using an EQDir type connection


27-09-2017, 07:37 AM
Random question, will the handset accept invalid dates? (Months greater than 12) I have not got easy access to mine to check that. If it does, just to make sure, the handset is expecting dates in MM/DD/YYYY format not the more typical in Australia DD/MM/YYYY. I know if you forget and for instance put in 03/09/2017 for September 3rd instead if 09/03/2017 it accepts it and them proceeds to do unpredictable things as the date is out by six months.

I am just not sure if it will accept a date with the first two digits greater than 12 and convert it to something spurious then go off doing unpredictable things.

If you have been using Synscan handsets for some time you are probably well aware of that quirk, but after having mine sitting in the garage for a while I had forgotten and did it wrong first time out recently.

27-09-2017, 02:06 PM
Well aware of synscan being MM/DD/YYYY - and 25 isn’t a valid month anyway LOL... if it was wrong date it would compute a hopelessly wrong position for anything - Saturn included - and at one point out of disbelief was checking the altaz positions it showed on the handset with what SkySafari showed on my iPhone ... and they agreed.

Will try again tonight.

27-09-2017, 04:02 PM
I thought not, but had no chance to check on mine if you can input an invalid date and have to convert it into something spurious.

The only times I have had mine head off in unexpected directions have been after not using it for a while and autopilot plugging DD/MM/YYYY format dates into it on setup but the couple of times I have done it have been early in the month so have been a valid date in either format.

27-09-2017, 07:18 PM
Ah ok... it doesn't accept an invalid date (i.e. month >12 or day number > 28/29/30/31). if you try it just sticks to what it had before.

28-09-2017, 06:48 PM
You're doing everything right, so this has to be a DOA. Don't torture yourself and just ring Bintel to get it fixed or replaced.

29-09-2017, 10:51 AM
3 words: Return To Bintel

06-10-2017, 04:13 PM
Bintel are swapping it for a new (known good) one. Now there's service !
Something to be said for buying locally when it involves complex electronics.

The Mekon
14-12-2017, 07:48 PM
To keep this thread going......

Three nights ago I was aligning my EQ6. Using three star alignment the first attempt was successful, but ended up not putting the targets in the field of a 100x power eyepiece - they were not that far off but not good enough for me. No problems, this often happens as I never use a cross hair to align.
So I park the scope & try the alignment again - not sure what happened but it slewed towards the first alignment star Sirius and ended up around 15 degrees off! Same thing happened with the second alignment star - and so on. After a few attempts I gave up and reset the whole system. Still no joy - the scope was around 15 degrees out on it's initial slewing which is just crazy as my portable pier is always very close to the pole. Gave up and observed without GoTo.

Next night tried again. Exactly the same problem, despite correct day, time, position etc, initial slew was around 15 degrees out.

Sat down and thought for a while. Set scope to "Park." position. Then scrolled through to "show position" Lo and behold - position shown was at dec 74 degrees south when it should have read 90S when in "park." Tried to figure out how this had happened, and how to fix it.

Reset to Factory default - mount showed 90S in parked position. all fixed.

No idea what caused this error to creep in to the "park" position parameters - can anyone suggest a reason?

14-12-2017, 08:44 PM
If it becomes repeatable you have a fault, pure and simple.

I get the feeling that at the factory SW merely power up each mounts and press a few buttons to see if it slews in each direction, and that’s considered ok.

Clearly from my experience they do not check that a polar alignment actually work using known coordinates of reference stars at a known date and time, and that a GOTO does go to the correct position accurately for a defined object/date/time.

I’m also sceptical about the use of the “secondary encoders”; why would you ever disable them if they actually worked as advertised ? That there is a setting to disable them suggests a hardware issue, or a defect in the firmware that they never quite sorted out.

15-12-2017, 05:04 AM
Gday Wavy

They are actually quite coarse ( ie only accurate to about 4-6 arcmins ) and arent designed to be the "real" definition of position, like in other encoder based mounts. They appear to be designed for people who want to simply declutch and rubberneck without losing alignment, vs do "accurate" pointing and tracking.
Horses for courses

15-12-2017, 05:54 AM
I would agree with that (Using the secondary encoders to keep track of position through manual moves) but they seem to work very well at it.

On the nights I have bothered to do the alignment carefully (Mine is the Orion version and I mostly use it in Alt Az) I regularly declutch and manually point, it was one of my primary reasons for buying the mount. I have not picked up any notable loss of pointing or tracking precision over a night of doing so.

15-12-2017, 08:06 AM
Gday Paul

Until they get damaged or covered in grot :-)
The EQ8 encoders are very "environmentally" exposed and there are lots of reports of damage to them. Not so much the EQ5/6 versions
When not damaged, they work well for their purpose, but for users who use EQMod and want to know "exactly" where they are, it can be iffy, even with good encoders, as the encoders can arbitrarily change your current "reported" position during even std tracking, when the tolerances of the encoder output exceed the software limits.
I have lots and lots of evidence of that happening.